Ivan Ajibola Thomas, a former senior producer at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
In his thesis ‘the changing landscape of broadcasting in Sierra Leone’, Dr Ajibola Thomas who was also the first Public Relations Officer of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated the de-monopolisation of the broadcast media and the introduction of media pluralism in Sierra Leone.
He posits that the institutionalisation of broadcast media pluralism was an aftermath of the ten-year civil conflict and the (re)introduction of multiparty democracy in the country.
With more specificity, Dr Ajibola Thomas interprets the proliferation of independent community and rural (regional) radio stations as the advent of the grassroots’ sphere of broadcasting in Sierra Leone.
He outlines the developmental phases of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) as it grapples with the justification of its existence as a government service and experts’ proposals for its political independence.
Dr Ajibola Thomas avers that this transformation of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service has resulted in two diverse thoughts; to privatise or incorporate SLBS as a public service corporation.
Studying the transformation of government broadcasting systems in the Commonwealth of Nations, Dr Thomas discovers that all of them changed their status to a public service corporation and urges Sierra Leone to follow these examples.
He also investigated the effects of the overtures of the grassroots’ sphere of broadcasting, the political economy of broadcasting in Sierra Leone and the matrix of the new system of media deregulation of broadcasting in the country.
Dr Ajibola Thomas’s research succeeds in documenting the evolution of broadcasting in Sierra Leone.
Congratulating Dr Thomas on his achievement, the founders of the Trust, Mr and Mrs Robin Williamson who sponsored the research said, “we were delighted to support the research, and thus increase the expertise and media professional base in Sierra Leone. We see this important work as contributing meaningfully to the development of the media industry, reducing its dependence on foreign experts for professional media advice.”
Mr Robin Williamson is also executive director of the International Communication Forum (ICF) and he is working with Dr Ajibola Thomas to create the Sierra Leone chapter of the organisation.
Dr Ajibola Thomas has presented several papers on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting System at the ICF’s international conferences in both Switzerland and Cape Town, South Africa.
As a research student, Dr Ajibola Thomas served as PhD representative in the Media and Communication Department.
He worked as teaching assistant teaching seven modules to first and second year students in the department and served as research assistant working with top researchers in the discipline. He was also sub warden and ambassador of the Aim Higher Education programme of the University of Leicester, visiting schools in deprived communities to encourage youngsters to pursue university degrees for upward mobility. Dr Ajibola Thomas has come home to contribute to national development. He disclosed that, “I am encouraged to come back home because of the new political dispensation and political stability fostered by the democratisation process and free and fair election. My focus will be to improve broadcasting standards and professionalism, and develop proposals to introduce postgraduate media courses at the media department at Fourah Bay College.”